8, 2014
Crisis: Wales, Guardian, Whistleblowers, Mass Surveillance, Russ Tice
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next

1. Jimmy Wales: UK needs US-style first amendment to
     protect whistleblowers

2. Guardian Launches ‘SecureDrop’ System for

3.  An Appeal for More Whistleblowers
4. 'Mass Surveillance at Its Most Severe': Mobile Phone
     Giant Reveals Direct Govt Wiretapping

5. NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the
     JUICIEST Documents

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of June 8. It is an ordinary crisis log.

It is a Sunday, and indeed Whitsuntide, but I did find five items that follow. Also, there is no theoretical exposition of the crisis today: This will have to wait till later. Finally, the present crisis report is uploaded considerably earlier than is usual.

1.  Jimmy Wales: UK needs US-style first amendment to protect whistleblowers

The first item is an article by Kevin Rawlinson and Mark Townsend on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Britain should introduce its own constitution with an enshrined right to freedom of speech similar to that of the US to ensure that whistleblowers can come forward, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said.

He said that doing so would help prevent governments from cracking down on media organisations that wanted to publish potentially damaging stories.

"One of the big differences between the US and the UK is the first amendment, so the idea of smashing computers in the basement of the New York Times is basically inconceivable," he said, referring to the British government's demand that the Guardian destroy hard-drives used to store Edward Snowden's secret files.

"One of the important things about the US is that something like the first amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights is very difficult to change – whereas here, it's not so easy to construct something that's difficult to change. Parliament can ultimately change anything with a majority vote and that's that."

In fact, this is from a conference organized by The Guardian and Don't Spy On Us, which is dedicated to end the mass surveillance of the web and mobile phones.

Also, while I am sympathetic to Wales's proposal, I much doubt it will work: The British parliament seems mostly corrupt; the British government seems to love the GCHQ; and so there seems not to be the necessary legal or parliamentarian clout to do this. Besides, although the US has laws that formally assure freedom of speech, Snowden could not come forward without being arrested. (Indeed, the Bill of Rights seem to have mostly disappeared in the US - indeed not formally, but practically.)

But there was more, such as a video address by Stephen Fry:

The day started with a video address from performer Stephen Fry, who called the government's actions in spying on its own citizens "squalid and rancid".

In a prerecorded address, he said: "The idea of having your letters read by somebody, your telegrams, your faxes, your postcards intercepted, was always considered one of the meanest, most beastly things a human being could do, and for a government to do, without good cause."

Yes, indeed - and they do not have a good cause, and are not concerned with "terrorism": The US and British governments are concerned with getting total control over everyone, or indeed - since they currently have it - keeping and extending this. (Yes, I am not an optimist about this.)
2.  Guardian Launches ‘SecureDrop’ System for Whistle-Blowers

The next item is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Guardian has launched a secure platform for whistleblowers to securely submit confidential documents to the newspaper’s reporters.

The launch comes a year to the day since the Guardian posted the first of a series of NSA documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, sparking a worldwide debate on surveillance, privacy, and civil liberties.

Free speech and privacy groups alongside popular sites including Reddit, BoingBoing and Imgur, are marking the day with a Reset the Net campaign, encouraging internet users to take direct action to secure their privacy online. Several technology companies are also expected to announce new steps to protect users’ privacy over the course of the day.

For "Reset The Net" see the last link and the day before yesterday. And I like it that it now at least has become practically feasible to address the Guardian as a whistleblower. As to that SecureDrop system:

It makes use of well-known anonymising technology such as the Tor network and the Tails operating system, which was used by journalists working on the Snowden files.

The New Yorker, the US not-for-profit investigative newsroom ProPublica, and the Pierre Omidyar-backed startup The Intercept are among the newsrooms already making use of the SecureDrop system.

The SecureDrop platform was initially developed by the US developer and activist Aaron Swartz, who killed himself in 2013 when facing charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for the mass downloading of academic articles.

You can get more information here, and it may help that the system "is installed outside of the UK", as indeed seems quite wise.

Then again (and I think: realistically):
While the system is far more secure than, for example, emailing information to a reporter, SecureDrop specifically does not promise 100% security.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

3. An Appeal for More Whistleblowers

The next item is an article by Norman Solomon on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.

I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage.

I doubt it. As to the first paragraph:

Who is "we"? I am quite certain that this does not refer to the majority of men. I know this from my own experiences (the Dutch in vast majority really do not - I repeat: not - want to hear about the system that makes their country the Colombia of Europe and for over 25 years has been turning over at least 10 billions of dollars a year illegally, in soft drugs alone, all protected by mayors, aldermen, council members, politicians, policemen and judges, who all are, or  at least pose as if they are, sincere Dutch patriots, who all protect the drugs mafia ) while the "majority of men", in my experience, are neither intelligent nor brave, although they may be cunning and crafty, for their own interests, and they also like to pose very much as if they are a lot better than they are.

Besides: it is a year now since Snowden's revelations started, and all the governments that were spying on their own and other populations still are spying - and relatively few ordinary men seem to care (and some of it is quite difficult to understand, I do agree).

As to the second paragraph: Except for myself, I've never met a whistleblower, but it is absolute nonsense that the people who were whistleblowers are "extraordinarily ordinary": They are not.

I am not saying they are geniuses or moral heroes, or indeed would want to be treated as if they are; I am saying that just as in WW II very few people did have the courage to join the real resistance (six time more Dutchmen served in the German SS as were in the Dutch resistance, although it seems nearly all Dutchmen insisted on being Heroes From The Resistance from May 5, 1945 onwards, which is the day of liberation in Holland - at least, that is what a former prime minister said, who also knew that quite a few of the valiant Dutch had helped to kill over 1% of their own population, namely for being "of the wrong race"), it is also true that very few people have the courage and the character to be a whistleblower: most men do not like to risk their own incomes or personal safety.

This also explains why there are so few of them: You must be not a quite ordinary person so as to become a whistleblower. (And I think you are not quite ordinary, and you also are a better man or woman than most of the ordinary men and women who surround whistleblowers, who all also know what you know, but who all insist on not telling it to the public, even though it is much in the public interest, in the end because they care more for themselves and their careers than they do for others.)

There is a good quotation from Ellsberg (one of the few who had the courage!):

“All governments lie,” Ellsberg says in a video statement released for the launch of ExposeFacts, “and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned, in terms of their own decision-making, their planning — and to be able to allege, falsely, unanimity in addressing their problems, as if no one who had knowledge of the full facts inside could disagree with the policy the president or the leader of the state is announcing.”

Ellsberg adds: “A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy.”

True. But Solomon is mistaken about whistleblowers, it seems mostly because he does not want to offend the feelings of the very ordinary men who would never dare to act as the rare whistleblowers did.

4. 'Mass Surveillance at Its Most Severe': Mobile Phone Giant Reveals Direct Govt Wiretapping

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams: 

This starts as follows:
Mobile phone giant Vodafone revealed Friday that in some countries where it operates, governments have a direct and permanent link to their customers' communications, allowing them "unfettered access" that allows for "uncontrolled mass surveillance."

The UK-headquartered company made that information public in its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report.

While stating that it respects its users' right to privacy, the company adds that "in every country in which we operate, we have to abide by the laws of those countries which require us to disclose information about our customers to law enforcement agencies or other government authorities, or to block or restrict access to certain services."

The report reveals 29 countries whose governments requested user data between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, though Vodafone is prevented by law from revealing the number of such requests for some of those countries. The government requests could come in the form of wiretapping, also known as "lawful interception," which Vodafone's report calls "one of the most intrusive forms of law enforcement assistance." The demands could also be for "communications data," or metadata.

That is something and it is good Vodafone is reporting this. There is considerably more in the article under the last dotted link, including a report on some countries where the governments have direct access to a phone network to spy directly on their people.

5. NSA Whistleblower: Snowden Never Had Access to the JUICIEST Documents

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:
This starts as follows, and is basically a record of a long recent conversation Washington's Blog had with Russell Tice. The colors are as in the original:

NSA Spying On Congress, Admirals, Lawyers … Content As Well As Metadata … Cheney Was Running the Show

NSA whistleblower Russel Tice was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping.

Tice told PBS and other media that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials:

There is also this:

Washington’s Blog called Tice to find out more about what he saw when he was at NSA.

RUSSELL TICE: We now know that NSA was wiretapping [Senator] Frank Church and another Senator.  [That has been confirmed.]

And that got out by accident. All the information the NSA had back then – and probably many other senators and important people too, back in the 70s – they shredded and they destroyed all of that evidence.  As much as they could find, they destroyed it all. By accident, something popped up 40 years later.

And, in fact, they were asked 40 years ago whether NSA had bugged Congress. And, of course, they lied. They lied through their teeth.

They still do. And there is quite a bit more that is quite interesting that shows that - in Tice's opinion - there are levels and levels of secrecy, and Edward Snowden and the journalists who helped him did very well with the information Snowden had, but Snowden does not know everything, and indeed very few do.
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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